Monday, March 30, 2009

Stumblin' Round Dublin

Expectations before going into Ireland:
-Drinking. Lots of drinking.
-Red heads
-Everyone drinks Guinness beer
-An old book of “Kells” whatever that means.
-Harsh accents that, even though they are speaking mostly English, is completely foreign.
-Fiddle music
-Leprechauns or rainbows or pots of gold….or all!
-Fishermen and Sheppard’s all wearing traditional Irish Sweaters while performing their jobs.

Realizations after going to Ireland:
-Drinking. Lots of drinking.
-The red heads that I was expecting to see were mostly golden brown…or grey.
-Everyone drinks Guinness beer
-The book of Kells is over a century old and not only contains the 4 gospels of Jesus, but displays incredible art, precision, and discipline to produce an inspiring finished product.
-Harsh accents that are charming and when drunk: unintelligible.
-Not only fiddle music, but drums, guitar, and a lot of BANJO!
-Leprechauns do not exist. Rainbow are infrequent in Ireland due to missing a key ingredient in their weather most of the time….SUN. The Irish economy is bustling, and more expensive than England…so there’s your gold baby!
-No fisherman or Sheppard’s in the big city of Dublin, but the traditional Irish Sweaters are amazingly warm and cool looking!

Here is your update on most recent endeavor of the Traveling Halbury:

I spent 2 full days and 2 nights in Dublin, Ireland this weekend with my fellow travel buddy Colin and his cooperating teacher Harold.

We land in Dublin and I, being the savvy traveler that I am, talked the two blokes into taking the bus for E 2,20 instead of a cab for god knows how much (upwards of 30 Euros) into the center of Dublin. We found a friendly Irishman on the bus to tell us when to get off, and after 4 blocks of city walking we arrived at our hotel, The North Star.

After we checked in, put our bags down, and grabbed a quick bite to eat (pizza from a random pizzeria) we headed out on the town. Here is a picture of the famous Ha’penney bridge and Dublin behind it at night time (Ha’penny named after the toll it once cost to cross it). We arrived at Madigan’s Bar and drank our first pint of Guinness for E 4,60! All the while we were listening to the Irish version of your garden variety open-mic singer belting the tunes of the famous Billy Ray Cyrus. Imagine pulling up into a bar in downtown Dublin, all sorts of stoked on dipping your toes into the Irish culture and accompanying your first Guinness from its native land to the words “Don’t tell my heart, my achy breaky heart, I just don’t think it’d understand” in an Irish accent, with the entire bar singing along. Other highlights from the same singer included “Sweet Caroline” and my favorite (your listening to it right now) “The Galway Girl.”

We moved from there along the quay (river Liffy) down toward the famous nightlife district “Temple Bar.” I must say, I was thoroughly unimpressed with Temple Bar. I found an absence of traditional Irish bars sporting pub music and an abundance of shitty modern clubs with youngsters dressed in themed costumes listening to dance/techno music….not the Dublin experience I was looking for. We did find a good pub to sit and people watch and ended up calling it a night at 2 am.

Saturday was a long day, and thoroughly impressive in accomplishments. After a buffet breakfast in our hotel, we headed out to our first stop: Christchurch Cathedral. An impressive and beautiful church, but merely a stop on our way to the better known cathedral….Ay da catedral o’ Saint Patrick! Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It was a striking church (seen to the side, set behind a blossoming cherry tree) and toward the end of our time there we fell across a Norwegian Choir practicing for an upcoming event. Gorgeous church and fitting music.

Feeling spiritual and inspired by the two Cathedrals we did what any good Irishman would do….went to a near-by pub. Fallon’s, a quaint little pub kitty corner from the church. From here on out, we decided to make the afternoon and evening about drinkin’! We headed to the Guinness storehouse. I must say, a VERY impressive tour and well worth the E 10,00 to get in! You climb up 5 stories, each level containing some form of history, beer making process, or beer industry information. There are tastings and beer stops along the way, that reach to the pinnacle: The Gravity Bar. This bar is one of the highest points in Dublin and has such incredible views of the Irish hills and the cityscape.

What would you do after a couple pints of Guinness? “Why head to the Jameson Distillery ya mick!!”
We caught a cheap taxi to the Jameson distillery, and it was well worth it…my feet were dead by this point. The distillery was a bit less impressive and we were not chosen for the special “whiskey taster” session at the end of the tour, but we still did get our own taste of Jameson at the end. It was great to be celebrating the booze of Ireland in Dublin only weeks after St. Patty’s day.

On the way home we stopped by a restaurant and I got to try what I was hoping to taste the entire weekend- Irish Stew. Let me tell you it was a great experience. The weather was cold and getting colder and we step inside this pub, order burgers and my stew and sit down to a Guinness and conversation. What do you know, the TV gets turned on and is immediately surrounded by all the men and women in the bar. It was the Ireland vs. Bulgaria football game. The final ended up being 1-1 (which probably prevented the night turning into a complete drunken mess).

Believe it or not Saturday night, the night when we were all planning to get shmammered, we crashed out very early in the hotel. It was upsetting at first. And then I realized how incredibly tired I was. It was a long day and sipping the Black Bush (Whiskey by Bushmills) on the hotel bed watching Irish TV was alright with me.

I started my Sunday with a trip to the hotel sauna (half to escape the two sickies in my room and half to breath in some warmth to clear my lungs).

We went to Trinity college (the famous university in Dublin) and the owner of an ancient library and the famous “book of Kells.” I was really impressed with the tour of the university. We had an exceptionally funny tour guide (a senior history major) and it ended with a viewing of the book itself. What an incredible book! It looks so incredibly labor intensive that I cannot imagine how long it took the group of monks to finish it.

We caught a “House of Ireland” store right outside the college and took a peek at some of their woolen mills. Damn. They got me. Colin and I had aspirations to buy traditional Irish Aran Sweaters while we were in Dublin, and we happened to find a great place to purchase them. I bought a light brown loom-woven sweater with some very intricate designs. It is very well made, and I am confident will last me a lifetime. Colin bought a much, much better quality hand-made sweater that looks absolutely bad arse. It was a good bit of money for us to spend, but will be well worth it in the memories that it gives us each time we put it on.

After some fish and chips, we arrived at the highlight of my weekend: The Brazen Head. The Brazen Head is best known as the oldest pub in Ireland. In a city of over 1,000 pubs….that’s just the city….that is an impressive distinction! While we were there, we stumbled into a side room and discovered the Sunday afternoon “Live Music.” When I say live music, I mean 1 fiddle player, 2 guitar player, 1 banjo players, and 2 Irish drum players (played with a wooden stick and looks like deer skin stretched over a wooden frame). Not to mention the random folks drinking in the bar that were called up to sing a particular song (men and women alike) or strum a little tune on the guitar. We killed about 3 pints of Guinness just watching them and enjoying the atmosphere. I was so elated to be having the experience that I did, and I am positive it wasn’t the Guinness speaking, but I had a natural high just living in that moment. It was great. And therefore the “High”light of the weekend.

We hopped a bus back to the airport (thanks again to the keen Hal, we got off the bus just after we were supposed to, narrowly escaping the catastrophe of missing our flight and being stuck in Dublin with no place to go).

It was an exhausting and jam-packed weekend that I am sure I missed some of the more intricate details of it, but you will just have to wait to hear those stories until we can meet over a Guinness or Jameson ourselves and tell the tales.

That’s the news for now. Sorry if the end of this post trails off, my attention is being divided in many directions and I am suddenly looking at my “to-do” list and realizing that I should be investing my time into other endeavors than my blog. Love you all none-the-less!

“and then I said ‘feck it, I’m in Ireland’”
-T-shirt in a souvenir shop

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Field Trip

Sigh....not a sigh of sadness or depression or mere disapproval, but a retrospective sigh of relief. I just got back from Dublin and probably the best travel expereince I have had yet! (well shoot, thats hard to say for sure, but it is battling for the top spot). I am too tired and sleep deprived to write a deserving post right now, but I wanted to let you readers know that I am alive and well and you can expect an in-depth post sometime soon (hopefully with-in the next day).

For now, you will have to be satisfied with a few pictures from the field trip that I went on Friday. We went to Church Farms, a nearby "rare breeds" farm that displayed many critically endangered species native to the UK. One of them was a Suffolk Punch Horse, one of the most massive creatures that I have seen live. Others were rare breeds of goats, pigs, sheep, and hens.

The highlight of the field trip was getting to hold a relatively new born lamb (what are they called? Kids?).

Check back soon for an update on my weekend travels to the amazing town of Dublin!!


Monday, March 23, 2009

A day in the life...

Today I woke up to a gentle knock on the door. I stumbled out of my very springy and uncomfortable twin bed to a fellow student teacher who had locked her flash drive in the middle school and needed to borrow my keys.
“Now is as good a time as any to wake up, I s’pose.”
The usual morning routine of coffee, breakfast, shower, dress, get ready to walk 2 seconds away to the middle school was well broken up by a “what am I grateful for?” internal monologue. The highlights ranged from simple things such as the perfect sip of coffee (the pinnacle between when it is too hot to drink and when it is too luke warm to resemble the “best part of waking up”) to more complex and vastly important things like being born into an incredibly wonderful family and being surrounded by people I love and love me in return… know normal morning thoughts.
Decided today to shave around the fullest part of my facial hair. Still nothing resembling more than your garden variety 16 year old.
School seemed to fly by today. I started off with planning period, which I love, and got well prepared for the day’s lessons. The PE/outdoor ed. class tested their mile times and I introduced “Ultimate Frisbee” and how to throw the backhand. I have a wealth of memories involving my brother and I in the church parking lot across the street throwing the frisbee for hours, until it inevitably got lost in the blackberry bushes (don’t worry we would find it a year later, faded and unusable).
My health class started their PowerPoints on Illicit drugs, each group in charge of teaching the class the in’s and out’s of one major drug. They were stubborn as mule’s to get moving today, but progress was made.
I was pleasantly surprised at lunch with penne pasta and home-made red sauce from my cooperating teacher and tira misu (how do you spell that? Terra Missou?) from another teacher.
Immediately after school, I was “asked” to help some friends move furniture, etc from their house to another location. The end result was spending a wonderful evening, with great people, eating great food, and enjoying fascinating conversation about life, people, and traveling. A great bottle of wine (Spetlesse mom!!), California salad, chilli, bean pods and mushrooms, sausage and sauerkraut, and buffalo meat balls (yes jokes about buffalo balls were too easy to resist). It was a hodgepodge assortment for dinner, but “deliceaux!”
My evening has now turned into procrastinating on tomorrow’s lesson plans (again first period planning….gotta love life right now!), suckin down some Corona’s, and watching “The Sound of Music” in preparation for my travels to Austria and Germany in 2 weeks. I am thinking of you momma, and enjoying every minute of the movie!

I am 23, going on 24. What is a boy to do?
The future: a question mark
A quiet evening in the park,
Life it has been so kind.

This weekend is Dublin,
Guinness and Jameson,
Maybe the book of Kels.

I am 23, going on 24. Where is a boy to go?
Corsica, Sardinia,
Malta, Mallorca,
Possibly a Grecian Isle?

Each day I’m grateful
For this life so peaceful.
People wont you join me soon?

This was a day in the life of the Traveling Halbury..and those were a few of my favorite things.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The storm has passed, and Hal is gassed...

I'm sorry reader(s).
The reason that I have been non-existent for the past week or so (in more ways than this public web log) is because I was being observed by my supervising instructor on Monday and Tuesday. It was an insanely exhausting weekend and an even more exhausting two days. It went very well though, here is a synopsis:

Weekend: Colin and I must have spent a total of 20 hours at school over the weekend. Add a couple over the past few days.....what can I say, I am a procrastinator. In almost all facets of my life, I am a procrastinator. Once I stop getting away with it, I will stop :)

Monday: Chris (my supervisor) observed my 6th grade health class. The kids were great. They were responsive and relaxed and having fun. I ended up talking a bit more than I wanted to, but it was a strong, comprehensive lesson. It was an introduction to alcohol and I was crackin the students up with some activities.

Right as the class begun, I had just handed Chris my lesson plan and turned around to address the class when I find a stranger in my classroom. The 5 foot little creature says "Hi, my name is (we will say) Travel Krisalkhdflsdfajsdlk and I am a new student in your health class!" Oh shoot. What do I do? No notification whatsoever?!? Come on! It actually turned out to be a blessing because I had the opportunity to show of my "thinking on the fly" teaching skills. I introduced him to the class, had him share a little about himself and then turned it on the other students. "Have any of you ever moved to a new school in the middle of the year?"
"what was it like?"
"why was it so hard for you?"
"What would have helped you? Do you have any ideas of how we can be helpful and welcoming to Travel?"

and the class did so well helping him catch up with our current unit and helping him from class to class, etc. I was proud.

She also got to see the wonderful chaos of my lunchtime intramurals (its March madness at Lakenheath Middle School too!).

To top it all off, she watched a "Reading Counts" party that I helped with in the Library that rewards students who have earned a certain amount of points for reading various books. I gave the "St Patty's day quiz" and graded it and awarded the winners.

Tuesday: Chris observed my 7th grade Outdoor Ed/PE class and the last day of our Basketball Unit. The students were goofing off a little more than usual and I had to lay the hammer down on em, but I was running with em, doing push ups and sit ups, and playing with them (like I do everyday) and I think she was impressed.

She then watched my 8th grade health class where I made them do a research project on Alcohol, create a poster, and present their specific topic. The 8th graders are already checked out, so it was a little tougher than usual to rope them is as well...but they did well for me and I appreciated it.

Overall she got to see a 6th grade health class, 7th grade Outdoor Ed, and 8th grade Health! Pretty thorough observation, I'd say!

Its over now, and I have a life again. Thank goodness. I did check my blog one of the days and saw that 4 people had visited the blog...nice. I suppose that I deserved that one. I hope that I have not lost you all for good! I am still here and I should be submitting a flurry of posts in the next couple of weeks.

A shout out to some folks that I never publicly thanked:

The current Grove Groovies for a wonderful bunch of 3 GREAT CD's
Leslie for her great care package full of things to remind me of home, music, good smelling things,etc.
Greg and (soon to be) Jenny Wittreich. I just got your "save the date" card and you know it is already saved. August 22 folks, the first of my close friends to get married. Scary stuff, but a great thing :)
Steve- stevo is doing well in his Moroccan village. Check out his blog, my


He is an incredible writer (I wish I could express myself half as eloquently) and has some great thoughts and reflections to share. Miss you already brother.

Kale- sorry if I have neglected you lately. I think you forgot that I was being observed this week and you seemed quite upset in some of your emails. I love you. I returned all of your emails. Lets skype soon!

Mom and Dad- Sorry I ditched you on this weeks skype date. I did notify you that I would though. I can get up early tomorrow...but I probably wont. Can we talk this weekend? I love you and thank you for being so great!

Lilli- I dont really know if you read this blog...but I am stoked to come and visit you in Barcelona! 2 weeks to do nothing in Barcelona, Spain! Its going to be warm, beautiful, and great.

Thats all folks! I will post again soon!

Minglin' in England
okay in the UK
Sure up in Europe
Kickin' in Britain
Ramblin in London


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Travel plans set!...well some of them

So today I booked the following:

London to Barcelona and back!

I will be visiting my good friend Lilli in BCN while she is teaching ESL to all sorts of ages. Lilli and her roommates have been kind enough to offer me a couch for 2 weeks!!! Such a nice gesture. Hopefully I will be an excuse for them to get out and about and do some traveling. From the sound of it she has not been able to get out too much. I will return to London on May 19th and wait for my brothers flight the next day (and hope not to have another Costa Rica incident :)

I booked London to Salzburg, Austria on April 4th
and Frankfurt to London on April 11th.

Yes that means that Colin and I need to make our way from Salzburg, Austria to Frankfurt, Germany (about 400 miles?) in a weeks time. This is our spring break. You cna imagine stops in Munich, Dachau, all along the romantic road (Nurenburg, Wertzburg, and Rothenburg) and finish in Frankfurt. Maybe visit my moms german family (whats the progress on that ma?) maybe visit my parents good friend Marty (again...progress?) and maybe visit some breweries, museums, and castles.

One thing is for sure....the HILLS WILL BE ALIVE!!!

I must frolick along the Austrian countryside. I must.

Anyways, the internet has been down here and that is why I have not posted. Hopefully this one makes it!

Love from a small island!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward, Looking out, Looking in (shorter).

Looking back:

This weekend I stayed home…did not do much…and it was amazing. It is so nice to finally get things accomplished and not have to plan lessons the night before I leave or the night that I get back.

On Wednesday I went to Romeo and Juliet in Cambridge. It was great. Shakespearian language spoken in the English proper tongue. I had only read parts of the play and maybe seen the DiCaprio version of the film a while ago. I am glad that I finally got to see this play in its entirety in the author’s original words. My favorite character was Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend.
Before we saw the play, we ate at a famous pub in Cambridge call “The Eagle.” Apparently the double helix of DNA was developed in this pub (actually at the University, but all of the scientists talked about it after work each day here…we all know how much can get accomplished in a talk over beers). I ate Bangers and Mash for the first time. The sausage was great! I will try it again.

On Friday I went out for a beer with Colin and his cooperating teacher. Afterwards we went to the dog races in nearby Mildenhall (see “Rose of the week” below for elaboration).

Yesterday I went to Bury St Edmunds and went to the Saturday market. I bought the following:

2 mangos for 1 pound (about $1.40!)
A pair of glasses (no prescription…I know its weird, but I have always wanted glasses)
Some leather repair and protector for my beloved Clark’s ® shoes.
A stretchy tight shirt (like what Simon Cowell wears…but not half as tight, actually loose like a normal shirt) for 1 pound 50 pence.
And 4 types of cheeses. The flavors are cheddar and sage, cheddar and port wine, a cranberry type of cheese, and some sort of vegemite-type flavored cheese. I plan to eat them tonight with a little wine. They were 60 pence each! So cheap.

In Bury we also saw some really old ruins from about 1000 years ago, a beautiful park, and an enormous cathedral.

It was a great little week.

Looking Forward:

This week is Terra Nova testing. The DODDs version of standardized testing. Let me ask you this: How is it STANDARDIZED testing if the test is vastly different from last years test? Also next years Terra Nova is also going to be Vastly different then this years test. What are they comparing these numbers to if each year measures different things? What is the point? Also there is such a large exchange of student in military schooling that you never have the same populations of students. Ludicrous, it’s all ludicrous and is causing most of my classes to be shortened and therefore less successful this week.

Next week my supervising teacher is coming to our school to observe Colin and I for a couple of days. I have decided that I am not going to rush through this week’s material just so I can fall on the exact lesson that I want to teach in front of her. I will teach whatever lesson we fall on that week and I will do it well. Do you think that’s a good idea? Or should I set it up so that I have a super beefy lesson planned that is going to blow her away? I don’t know….comment.
Dublin in 3 weeks!

Looking out:

It has been gorgeous here! Sunny most all of last week, which put me in a great mood. The days are getting longer too. Spring forward in England is on March 29th. I think April will be absolutely green and amazing here.

I am going to start to periodically include my glasses into my life…I don’t know why I have always wanted to wear glasses, but I have. My vision is 20/20 so I don’t need them. These ones don’t have a prescription and are 100% for aesthetic reasons. Does that make me weird? Why do you wear your hair a certain way? Why do you wear the clothes that you do? Why did you choose that particular watch, bracelet, bag, earring, shoes, etc to wear for the day? I see no reason why I can’t wear eyeglasses for style reasons. What do you think?

Looking in:

I am happy to report that the overwhelming great feelings and positivity have not yet left. Life is still good and I still take time each day to appreciate my life. Do you think its possible to live your entire life this way? I do. I am reading a great book that was mailed to me in a care package (thanks les!) called Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach. It is stimulation some very introspective thoughts about my outlook on life and the possibilities that the world has to offer. In only a couple of days of very casual reading, I am almost done with it. Check it out….or I may just mail it to you!

Rose of the week:

So we were at the dog races (I kept calling them horse races all night). We all put 10 pound into a pot and were betting out of that pot for the entire night. We were not doing so well…mostly betting on clever names. We won one race and scored 10 pounds. It came down to the last race and we had 7 pounds left in the pot. Colin’s cooperating teacher was going to put 6 pounds down on a “trio” (like a trifecta in the states where you bet on the order of the top 3 dogs). He boxed it. With the extra pound I bet a “reverse Forecast” (same as a boxed exacta in the states) on the two horses with the worst odds. By post time (start of race) it was 33 to 1 that these two horses would finish 1st and 2nd (dogs #2 and 6). Colin’s teacher picked the dogs by picking the exact opposite horses of what Colin suggested (2, 4, 6 instead of 1,3,5) as more of a joke than anything else. Sure as shit the dogs came around that final turn in the exact order of both bets: 2, 6, 4. We had won both bets. The trio cam out to be 216 pounds and the exacta was about 35 pounds. That’s 250 pounds total split between 3 people…about 85 pounds or $120 each! What a great end to the night. A great rose for the week.

Thorn of the week:

This took a bit to think of something “thorn worthy” but I am just going to say my to-do list. Lesson plans for this week and next week along with prep for my supervising instructor next week. Planning for spring break. Planning for summer travels with brother. Clean room. Ask for letters of rec. Start to apply for jobs. Catch up emails for neglected family and friends. Transcript from U of I (still…sorry mom). Live. Eat. Sleep. Read.

My next blog will give some much deserving shout outs to a select few individuals who have sent me great care packages lately (within the past 2 weeks and a few this upcoming week).
Much love to you all AND shame on you if you read this blog….have a thought or idea and then don’t comment….shame on you :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Halbury Gear

So I think that I am hitting another step in the evolution, or maturation, of a blog writer. This step is the “should I be writing all of this about myself? I don’t want to present myself as being a self centered, inconsiderate, egocentric ass”-step. Do not worry, I am fighting off the demons of those thoughts…but it is a bit hard. I DO only write about myself, my thoughts, and my experiences on this blog, but then again I feel like it is also a way for me to share these very personal things with you. A public diary, if you will.

Any who, I thought it would be good to write a blog about some of the gear that I wear while traveling. Now I do not claim to be an expert traveler. Actually, in comparison to the many world travelers out there, I am but a mere novice. I guess I just wanted to write a blog about the gear that I am wearing and why I appreciate it so much…specifically for traveling.

Lets start form the ground up, shall we?


There are 2…well maybe 3 very necessary types of footwear for a traveler (again, my opinion).
#1- a great walking shoe. While traveling, you walk a lot! Scaling the downtown plan of a large city can be exhausting work and if you choose the wrong shoe, perhaps for fashion or simple lack of planning, can ruin a great opportunity.
My walking shoe- the “Desert Trek”, the Originals division of Clark's shoes. First of all, they have a gum-type sole. When I say “gum” I mean the consistency of those old style erasers, the kind that are light beige in color and kind of fell apart when you tried to erase something with them…That. Imagine walking on that! It is a very forgiving shoe that contours to your foot and glides SO smoothly along the ground. They have a cool style with a trade-mark seam down the center. They can pass for semi-dressy if need be too! Perfect shoe number one!

#2- a great hiking shoe. We all know that great traveling must include getting close to nature. Nature can be the single reason that we visit a place, and if you are not prepared with correct footwear then you cannot experience all that natural beauty has to offer. In Chile I did not have hiking shoes. I had New Balance 544’s. I used these shoes on the Inca trail and when I hiked in Patagonia…they did fine, but I learned form my mistake. I now have a beefy “trail running shoe.” Now this shoe could not survive the apocalypse like some very intense hiking shoes that I have seen, but they serve very well for casual hiking AND running (be it trail or street). These shoes are the Solomon “XA Comp 3 GTX Trail Running Shoe” (Whew, Mouthful). They are great. Breathable yet strong. Stylish yet practical. Great tread and the classic draw sting shoe lace that all Solomon shoes offer.

#3- a relaxing shoe. This can be a night time shoe/slipper/sandal or as simple as a flip flop. Something comfortable. This is a must. You need to change out of your day shoes into something that feels different, lounge-able, relaxing. Currently, I do not have one of these. In the past I have utilized the famous Croc's or a standard flip flop. A moccasin or sheep skin lined slipper serves well too. Right now I just walk around barefoot, like god intended.


Briefly- I wear very breathable socks because unfortunately I am a classic “foot sweater.” That’s right, my feet sweat. Moist feet=stinky feet. It is something that I have had to deal with my entire life. I wash them and scrub them til I am blue in the face, and yet they still smell nasty. For this reason I need a breathable sock. Spending a little extra to get a sock that will bring some air into you sole (and a little of your soul) is very worth it. I have some under armour “no show” breathable athletic socks.


Here is a simple fact: most countries around the world do not wear shorts. People wear pants…everywhere folks. I’m sorry, I (like my good friend Ryan Leacy) love the short. I utilize it often back in the states, even when weather does not permit it. I need to wear pants over here. I wear the Mountain Hardware “Runout” pant. They are great because they are the most durable pant that I have owned. It is a very tough canvas type material, much like Carhart but more mobile and flexible. It comes with a sturdy synthetic braided chord belt (the type of material that backpack straps are made out of…how else would you explain that material?) already sewn into the pant. The back pockets and a utility pocket that sits just above the knee have zippers on them. These zippers are very important when traveling in a big city. Pick pockets don’t even try! It is also a great investment in piece of mind. You are going to know when someone is tugging hard on your back pocket zipper. Also, the bottoms of the legs have great draw strings for hiking the pant up your leg (in case of biking or attempting to convert into a short for warmer weather). Great pants. Almost bought some for my dad for x-mas.

I also wear the Kavu Chili Lite pant. Very light canvas pant with a similar built-in belt. The material is really the best appeal to these pants. Soft, comfortable, casual, and practical.


This can vary from trip to trip. I almost always pack the following: A breathable shirt and a comfortable “feels like home” shirt. My comfortable shirts of late have been Under Armour “Heat Gear” simple T-shirts. Stretchy, soft, comfortable and keep me cool in warm hostels, bars, restaurants, buses, etc. The “Feels like home” shirt has been my Michael Franti and Spearhead shirt that is bright yellow and says “Spearhead Rockers” on the front with a big # 10 on the back. I can’t explain it. It just feels like me. It is also developing that natural soft feeling that is reserved only for old t-shirts that have seen many days and made many trips to the washer/dryer.

The most important part of my travel gear: a simple Pendelton Flannel. I have worn the same flannel in every weekend trip that I have taken. It has a collar, so in a STrrreeeeeTCH it can be used as a shirt. It is 100% virgin wool, so it is very warm. I am a big fan of the ol “roll up the sleeves” look, but when its cold….roll em down man! Gives you the warmth of a sweatshirt but is much easier to pack, much more stylish (I guess that’s subjective), and much more comfortable.


Simple. You need a comfy floppy yarn hat made by someone very near to your heart. This hat does not offer warmth, but thought. Thoughts of home, friends (or family), and gives your travel style a little taste of home-life.

Very important and versatile: Buff. If you have not heard of a buff, it is utility headwear. The only limit to the uses of this thing is your imagination. Wrist band, neck scarf, a sleeping/night mask (slip over the eyes), a head band, bandanna, ear warmer, hat, pirate style hat, ninja mask (?), etc. Whatever you can think of. They were made popular by the crew of the popular reality TV show “Survivor.” Most males wore them as head bands, and females as tops.

That’s about all I can think of for now. Maybe I will write about some other pertinent travel gear at another time. For now, I need sleep.

You can check earlier post pics for evidence of all of this Halbury Travel Gear in use!

Monday, March 2, 2009


There is something so foreign, so exotic about leaving for a weekend getaway with 3 different types of currency in your wallet.

More time went into packing a lunch for this weekend getaway than the planning of the actual trip. Monday or Tuesday night Colin and I were looking into a trip for the weekend…last minute…again. It was time to crap or get off the crapper. I had a quiet, internal moment to myself. I weighed the pros and cons and suddenly decided to just go ahead and book the thing. I went into Colin’s room and almost immediately could feel the momentum beginning. We went down to the little cave where we can sometimes pick up Internet and searched for a flight that we had researched earlier. We found it, bought it, and in 5 minutes booked the hostel too! Here, an adventurous weekend began:

Because we booked the cheapest flight, we also booked the flight with the worst time. It left from London Stansted Airport (about 1 hour 30 min away) at 6:55 am. It’s okay, I’ll do the math for you. International flight= 1 hour 30 min early. Parking in midstay car park= add 30 minutes. Drive to airport= 1 hour 30 min. Wake up, brew coffee, finish packing, etc= 30 minutes. That’s right; we woke up at 3 am folks. It was rough. Needless to say we were chipper creatures boarding that airplane.

We flew into Eindhoven, Netherlands because it was much cheaper than flying into the Airport in Amsterdam. It’s about an hour and a half away from Amsterdam by bus. Even with the round trip bus ticket the transportation was significantly cheaper, besides I thought it added a little adventure to the weekend.

The first thing that I will tell you about this weekend, is that Colin and I approached it differently than any normal big city trip. We decided right off the bat that we would not measure the success of the trip in how many landmarks, buildings, museums, and monuments we could check off the list, but rather we would measure our success in how much we enjoyed ourselves.

The second thing I will tell you is that this was probably my most successful trip yet.

Highlights from Day 1:
Walking, walking, walking. We walked everywhere. There are more canals (50 more) in Amsterdam(AD) than in Venice, one of the many surprises that AD held for me.
A long line at the Anne Frank Museum=not how we want to spend our time.
A hot cappuccino and people watching in the Paradox Coffeeshop= exactly how we wanted to spend our time.
Walking some more, getting our bearings on another wonderful and interesting big city.
Riding the train to a nearby city, Haarlem (that’s right, New York was once called New Amsterdam and the Harlem in NY was named after this Haarlem) where our hostel was. In Haarlem there is an average of at least one bike PER PERSON! They were everywhere, inescapable.

Story Intervention: Old Man River
Colin and I get to the Hostel on Friday at about 3:30 pm (Friday was a half day at school, and our teachers told us that we would be fools not to take it off). We took a quick nap at 4 until about 6 pm (we had been awake since 3 am!). We wake up to, what we called, Old Man River (OMR). OMR was a 60-something homeless looking man who looked like he could barely walk. Holes in his shoes, patches of his hair missing (not in a balding kind of way), and a wonderful body odor. That night we go out and find a local coffee shop in Haarlem. We also find a Kebab place and have the most delicious Kebab (Mediterranean style pita with lamb/beef and amazing mystery sauces). We return, have some Heinekens downstairs and decide to turn in for the night. OMR was there, sleeping, where we had left him at 6. About 5 minutes after I close my eyes I hear a trickle. What’s that, you ask, why it’s crazy OMR peeing into a bottle off the side of his bed. No joke. This really happened. Not only did it happen once, it happened for a consistent 30 minutes. The dude wouldn’t stop. I received confirmation of the feat in the morning time when there were about 3 large bottles filled with a yellowish liquid next to his bed. The same thing happened the next night, no exaggeration.

Highlights from Day 2:

Van Gogh Museum. Maybe my favorite thing that we did all weekend. Did you know that Van Gogh did not start painting, or entertaining the idea of becoming an artist, until he was 26 years old? He was fired from an internship with some sort of a design or advertising company (Hey I’m only 23…if life takes me down the wrong path for the next three years, I can always become a Van Gogh….wait without the whole epilepsy and cutting off my ear thing though, right?). Favorite paintings include(you can google-image them for a reference): Potato Eaters (I was amazed at the intricate detail that he put into the figures. Also he made such a dark and meek painting seem very lively and colorful), The Sower (a man spreading seed in a wheat field with the setting sun. A great painting, he even accented the seeds being spread with a touch of yellow to show the sun reflecting off of them!), Starry Night over the Rhône (a night scene, before “Starry Night” with the town lights reflecting off of a nighttime inlet, and beautiful constellations shining overhead. This was my favorite of them all!), and the pinnacle Starry Night (a surprising amount of green in the painting, more texture than you could ever imagine too). I have never had a favorite painter, and call it the accompanying audio tour, the vibe of the museum, learning the story and inspiration behind the artist, or the breath taking paintings themselves, but I have one now. Let it be said, my favorite artist is Van Gogh! Now I just have to research him more.
Heineken experience in the old Heineken brewery. Not worth 15 Euro, but a fun experience that came with 2 beers.
Walking, walking, walking.
Night set and we flocked with all the other freaks to the famous RED LIGHT DISTRICT. Honestly, not that bad. Not too sketchy, police walking around, lots of drunk people, and lots of nearly naked women in windows. It was very creepy to walk by a window, with a giant red light hanging above and see a 6’3” tall black woman in lingerie lick her lips at you as you trip over the uneven curb in front of you. What a town.

Story Intervention:

So we had paid 3 Euro 90 cents each way on the train between Haarlem and AD. Not once did anyone check our ticket. Not once did we even see a person who looked like they might check our ticket. So on the way back, Saturday night we decided to save the 4 euros. We did not pay, and guess what, we got away with it. (My big joke was going to be saying “we didn’t do anything illegal in Amsterdam” haha, but we actually did, we skipped paying our fare on the train!). So in the morning on Sunday, we figured “what the heck we are 3 for 3, why pay our last fare on the train if no one checks?” Sure as Shitake right after we sit down and the train moves comes a ticket puncher. Colin tried to mutter an excuse like “well, I have this ticket, but its from yesterday…I thought it was round trip” at this point Colin is not seeing any mercy in the man’s eye and understanding that the ignorant tourist card had been played too many times, he abruptly changes his tune to “Can we buy a ticket on the train?” the man says “Yes, get off at the next stop, buy a ticket and get back on. This will save you 70 euro, the fine for traveling without a ticket.” As we get off on that stop he follows behind us singing “still have to pay the fffaaaarrrreeee” in a jesting manner. We paid and reboarded the train. Considering the possible outcomes that the story could have had, we were very lucky to have it turn out the way it did. I will always remember the “Oh shit” look on me and Colin’s faces when we saw him coming through that door, “um…we can buy our ticket on the train right?” haha.

Highlights from day 3:

Mostly just more exploring and walking around.
Another trip to Anne Frank’s house. Huge line, not how we wanted to spend our last day.
We took our time, enjoyed the sights, and relaxed the day away. Sunday was also our best weather day.

All in all, we didn’t cross that many things off the “sights to see” list in AD, but we certainly took in the culture and vibe of the city. We were happy to not have an agenda, not have a plan or direction for the weekend, but to be content sitting on a canal bench, watching the people, birds, boats, tourists, bicycles, cars, trams, and clouds all pass us by. I was thankful to be there, at that moment in time. So pleased with my surroundings that I took a mental picture. If there is one thing that I know, it is that a mental picture can capture the beauty, feeling, smell, sound, and awe of a moment unlike any picture from a camera.

I would like to close this blog post with a suggestion. AD’s slogan was I AMsterdam (like I am….sterdam, maybe with hopes that AD can be whatever you want it to be…a “personalize-able” city if you will). I suggest they change the slogan to “Amster…..DAM!”…and have a tourist tripping over a curb after passing by a 6’3” tall black woman in lingerie licking her lips.

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